You may not have heard about the National Crime Victimization Survey. Don’t feel bad. Most people haven’t.

Here’s the summary:

  • Two times a year this national survey asks around 135,000 households questions about the frequency and nature of crimes that are reported and unreported.
  • It is administered by the Bureau of Justice Statistics – US Justice Department.
  • Questions relating to sexual identity and gender have been included since July 2016.
  • The survey provides policy makers with valuable information to be used when making policy decisions.
  • The information gathered about unreported crimes is VERY important, because these types of crimes typically take place in minority communities.

The statistics provided by this survey are used to build a crime index so that policy makers have a clearer idea of where they should focus resources and which communities are suffering the most crimes.

What Happened?

The Justice Department has said that the questions relating to gender identity and sexual orientation will no longer be asked to participants of the survey if they are 16 or 17 years old. The Bureau of Justice Statistics says this is “due to concerns about the potential sensitivity of these questions for adolescents.”

Teens in this age range already had the choice not to answer these questions if they were uncomfortable with them. They are completely voluntary and when they do answer them, the information provided is kept confidential.

Despite what the Bureau of Justice Statistics says, this is just another example of the Trump administration quietly rolling back every policy that has been put into place to help and protect the LGBTQ community.

Why is this Important?

Teens who are in the LGBTQ community are much more likely to experience prejudice, discrimination, and violence. Because of the perceived shame that many teens in the LGBTQ community feel after a crime is committed, they often stay silent and do not report it. They suffer in silence.

This survey helped to give real numbers to a problem that many think does not exist, and it was one of the few ways to gain statistics on these types of crimes.

By taking these questions out for younger teenage participants, the government is telling them that, while a crime may have been committed, they don’t care that it was because they were simply trying to be themselves and live as who they really are.

The Justice Department is telling them that LGBTQ issues are not a concern for teenagers.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is estimated that up to 4o percent of the homeless youth in this country are LGBTQ. Their families have abandoned them.

They end up on the street having to do unimaginable things just to receive food. More often than not, they end up on drugs which spirals them down even faster. Suicide rates for this group of kids is so much higher than the general population.

By not recognizing them, or even asking them if crimes that have been committed against them has to do with their gender identity or sexual orientation, they are being marginalized by a government that is supposed to protect them.

What Now?

This is not over, and you can do something about it.

The change has moved into what is considered the “public comments” phase. This is where our responsibility as members of the LGBTQ community and our allies kicks in.

This link will take you to the Office of the Federal Register.

There, you can find out how to let the government know that you are completely against this. You can find an address, a phone number, and an email that are all routes you can take to let the Justice Department know that you oppose the government’s choice of taking these questions out.

The public comments deadline is May 11, 2018, but don’t put it off.

Without the information provided by these questions, policy makers can pretend that there are no problems with crimes against LGBTQ youth.

They aren’t trying to protect them from sensitive questions; they are trying to erase them.

Stand up. Make your calls. Protect LGBTQ youth.